HERVEY, Frederick William, Earl Jermyn (1800-1864).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1826 - 15 Feb. 1859

Family and Education

b. 15 July 1800, 1st s. of Frederick William Hervey†, 5th earl and 1st mq. of Bristol, and Hon. Elizabeth Albana Upton, da. of Clotworthy, 1st Bar. Templetown[I]†. educ. Eton 1814; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1819. m. 9 Dec. 1830, Lady Katherine Isabella Manners, da. of John Henry, 5th duke of Rutland, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 6da. styled Lord Hervey 1803-29 June 1826; Earl Jermyn 30 June 1826-59; suc. fa. as 2nd mq. of Bristol 15 Feb. 1859. d. 30 Oct. 1864.

Offices Held

Treas. of household Sept. 1841-Aug. 1846; PC 6 Oct. 1841.

Hered. steward, Bury St. Edmunds 1823; col. W. Suff. militia 1846-d.


Lord Hervey, as he was known until 1826, was raised in London, Suffolk and France, where his family resided for long periods in peacetime, pending the completion of extensions and refurbishments to their mansion at Ickworth and London house in St. James’s Square, a process delayed by reduced revenues from rents.1 His early education was entrusted to the family tutor, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Forster, a former headmaster of Norwich Grammar School.2 A nephew by marriage of Lord Liverpool, he was intended for a political career, and his father, a Grenvillite who returned a Member for Bury St. Edmunds, duly sent him to the premier in September 1820 for ‘your guidance rather than your assistance’.3 To Lord Grenville, Bristol explained, 17 Nov. 1820:

I had indeed hoped that my son might have followed in the same steps and looked to you as the leader of his party, but if I have been disappointed in this wish I have at least the satisfaction of thinking that on my part there has been no reserve, on yours no misconception.4

Hervey had canvassed the corporation of Bury St. Edmunds at the general election of 1820 as ‘personator’ for his uncle, General Arthur Percy Upton, the locum during his minority, and would probably have been returned there directly he came of age in 1821 had Upton then been offered the command of a ‘good infantry regiment’.5 In the event and with no affordable vacancy for the county of Suffolk likely, he offered for the prestigious Cambridge University seat at the November 1822 by-election as a pro-Catholic, anti-slavery ministerialist. Bristol, assisted by his relations, the foreign secretary Canning and the East Anglian aristocracy of all parties, launched a powerful campaign on his behalf, which deterred other government candidates from proceeding to a poll. Liverpool, although supportive, was among the many who considered his bid premature.6 He wrote to his sister-in-law Lady Erne, 12 Nov.:

If my advice could have been asked before the step was taken, I think I should have advised against it, because I think difficult to resist the argument that no man ought to be a Member for the university who has not besides an excellent character in the university (which Hervey has), established his reputation in the world.7

Hervey’s defeat by the anti-Catholic Tory William John Bankes was seen as damaging to the Whigs and to ministers, and variously attributed to his ‘untried’ status, fears that the constituency would become a treasury seat, and the split in the pro-Catholic vote between him and the Whig lawyer James Scarlett*.8 His partisan Robert Grant*, who had withdrawn before the poll, dismissed him as a ‘pleasing and promising youth’.9 In 1825 he was included in the duke of Northumberland’s delegation to Paris for the coronation of Charles X.10 He came in unopposed for Bury St. Edmunds in 1826.11

Now as Earl Jermyn, the courtesy title of the marquessate awarded to his father in June 1826,12 he signified his political allegiance to Canning directly Liverpool suffered a stroke in February 1827, but adopted a low parliamentary profile and, ostensibly on health grounds, spent much time between 1826 and 1830 in France.13 He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., against inquiry into electoral irregularities at Leicester, 15 Mar., and for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. 1827. As a member of the Berwick-upon-Tweed election committee, he vexed his fellow Canningite John Gladstone, who claimed he was unseated thereby, by voting to find him guilty of treating, 19 Mar.14 He did not attend the call of the House when the Fowey election petition was brought up, 6 Apr. As requested by his father and Canning as prime minister, he quashed reports of his candidature for the Cambridge University seat made vacant by Copley’s appointment to the woolsack.15 According to his notices, he was ‘unwilling to owe his election to the accidental division of the interests hostile to the Catholic claims’, but did not rule out his future candidature.16 Lord Lansdowne, a member of Lord Goderich’s ministry, again suggested him for the seat in September 1827.17

Jermyn voted to repeal the Test Acts, when the duke of Wellington’s new coalition ministry, to which Huskisson belonged, opposed it, 26 Feb., and for Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He presented petitions from Bury St. Edmunds against the malt duties, 17 Mar., and from West Suffolk for equalization of the sugar duties and the abolition of colonial slavery, 9 July. Following the Huskissonite resignations, he mustered in the Commons with the ‘ejected liberals’, 3 June.18 He voted to repeal the usury laws, 19 June, and for concessions in the silk duties, 14 July. In his maiden speech, 3 July 1828, for Fitzgerald’s motion for production of the correspondence between the English and Irish governments at the time of the Union, he suggested that the Catholics had acquiesced in it because of expectations generated concerning their future treatment, as Pitt had ‘held out to the higher ranks the prospect of getting into Parliament, to the lower the idea of some effectual relief, and to the clergy ... a competent provision’. He grudgingly welcomed Peel and Wellington’s decision to concede Catholic emancipation in 1829, and wrote to his father, whose long political career overshadowed his own, 9 Feb.:

Most of my friends here, Wortleys, etc., were very hard upon Peel ... and maintained that he ought to have gone out. I fought the other side stoutly. Still, I cannot help feeling a lack of confidence in men who have waited for the storm to burst, before they would believe that a storm was coming, who have been watching the gathering of the clouds for years, in vain; and who though warned and admonished, urged and entreated, would yet take no warning ... Even the vulgar herd may well believe in the storm, when it begins to pelt, but the man who pretends to the character of a statesman ought surely to watch the signs of the times; and to provide against future dangers, when precautions may yet avail. I very much fear that we may yet have some difficulties of detail ... The reports which circulate of the intentions of government to propose some very violent measure of interference with the elective franchise ... fill my mind with some nervous sensations. For, however disposed one may be to swallow all trifling and subordinate objections, and to throw aside over-nice and critical curiousness ... yet, there must of course be limits to forbearance and a point where constitutional principle may be too daringly outraged. Besides ... there is another very material question, which is this: how far it is worthwhile to risk the loss of all the healing, salutary and conciliatory tendency of the measure of concession, by an over-anxiety to court the ultra Protestant part of the community. Still, I confess, I see very strongly the importance of waiving all minor objections, and giving a hearty support to government as the best means of carrying the great question ... I shall therefore be disposed to do almost anything to avoid an awkward hitch. ... Not a word has yet been said about the elective franchise by anyone. (1st) My view would be to leave the bona fide 40s. freeholders exactly as they are. (2nd) To disfranchise no one, having a life interest in a freehold, till the period of his registration expires ... (3rd) The [franchise] qualification ... in virtue of a life interest (or lease for a life) might be raised to that point, and no further, which would be necessary to get rid of the perjury so frequent at Irish elections and to place some check upon the mischievous practice of subdividing property, which Irish landlords adopt for electioneering purposes. The preamble of the Act should recite these as grounds for legislating. To take away the franchise upon other grounds would I think be most unjust and unconstitutional, a measure of violence and of gross tyranny, not to say a very dangerous precedent ... It appears to me that it is hardly safe to have a large mass of your population entirely stripped of all constitutional vent for their wishes and feelings ... Voting at elections is a habit with a great proportion of the population in Ireland ... A sudden change of habit may produce general dissatisfaction, the effects of which it would be difficult to calculate: especially as I fear there is no thought of acting upon the policy of Pitt and Burke!! in regard to a provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. I fear that ... Pitt is not held in such estimation by our wiseacres in the cabinet of today, or by my lords the bishops ... You see what I am afraid of. Disfranchisement upon a large scale; dissatisfaction (if not disaffection) upon a large scale; unpaid priests sympathizing with the people, holding correspondence perhaps with lay agitators in Dublin ... no peace civil or religious, no cordial union between landlord and tenant, rich and poor, which I verily believe would be restored if concession was made graciously and property left to find its natural level and to assume its ascendancy.

He reassured Bristol the following day that he would do all he could to support Wellington publicly and he voted to consider emancipation, 6 Mar.19 He presented a petition from Bury’s guardians of the poor endorsing the parochial settlement bill, 3 Mar. He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May 1829. Despite murmurs of discontent among the corporation at his recent poor attendance and support for the government’s adjustments to the corn laws, which he hailed as the ‘best means of reconciling the conflicting interest of the country’, his return for Bury St. Edmunds at the 1830 general election was unopposed.20

Jermyn was listed by ministers among the ‘bad doubtfuls’ and was absent when they were brought down by the division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. When he married the Tory duke of Rutland’s daughter £10,000 was settled on her, but some observers, though approving the connection, considered their financial circumstances ‘constrained’.21 Jermyn declared promptly with his father against the Grey ministry’s reform bill, by which Bury St. Edmunds was scheduled to lose a Member, and voted against it at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. Notwithstanding the hostility of the mob, who threw stones and denied him a hearing, he topped the poll at Bury St. Edmunds at the ensuing general election.22 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, to make the 1831 census the criterion for English borough disfranchisements, 19 July, and against taking a seat from Chippenham, 27 July. He paired (probably in the majority to include Dorchester in schedule B), 28 July. He divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. His father was a voluble contributor to its Lords’ defeat in October, and afterwards Jermyn organized and circulated the Suffolk anti-reformers’ petition and address to the king.23 Undeterred by its restoration of the second seat to Bury St. Edmunds, he voted against the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and committal, 20 Jan., against enfranchising Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and voted for Baring’s bill to deny insolvent debtors parliamentary privilege, 27 June. On 3 July 1832 he thwarted an attempt by the Ipswich Member Wason to introduce a bill transferring the Suffolk summer assizes from Bury St. Edmunds to Ipswich.

Standing for Bury St. Edmunds at the general election in December 1832 as a self-styled ‘liberal reformer opposed to parliamentary reform’, Jermyn, who stressed his local connections and support for Catholic relief, the East Retford disfranchisement bill and the anti-slavery campaign, maintained that he intended ‘no party hostility towards the government of Lord Grey’. He succeeded in splitting the Liberal vote to finish in second place.24 He retained the seat for the Conservatives until he succeeded his father in 1859, and served as treasurer of the household in Peel’s second ministry. He died at Ickworth in October 1864.25 His son Frederick William John Hervey (1834-1907) succeeded him as 3rd marquess.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Oxford DNB (Hervey, Lord Arthur Charles); Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds), Hervey mss 941/59/2; Add. 38265, f. 25; D.E. Davy, Excursions through County of Suff. 1823-4 ed. J. Blatchley, 41.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1865), i. 99.
  • 3. Add. 38287, f. 332.
  • 4. Add. 58993.
  • 5. Oakes Diaries, ed. J. Fiske (Suff. Recs. Soc. xxxiii), ii. 250-1; Bury and Norwich Post, 15 Mar. 1820; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds) 1641/13; Hervey mss 941/56/71, Upton to Bristol, 6, 13 July 1821.
  • 6. Hervey mss 941/11/1/11A; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 12 Nov.; Dorset RO, Bankes mss D/BKL, Canning to H. Bankes, 23 Nov. 1822.
  • 7. Sheffield Archives, Wharncliffe mss WhM/693/807.
  • 8. Hervey mss 951/56/3; 59/1; The Times, 16, 23, 28 29 Nov. 1822.
  • 9. Hants RO, Calthorpe mss 26M62/F/C545.
  • 10. Hervey mss 941/59/1, Northumberland to Jermyn, 13 Feb.; The Times, 16 Mar., 9 May 1825.
  • 11. Oakes Diaries, ii. 310-11.
  • 12. Add. 38371, ff. 162, 168.
  • 13. Hervey mss 941/59/2.
  • 14. St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 277, J. Gladstone to Huskisson, 24 Mar. 1827.
  • 15. Palmerston-Sulivan Letters, 187.
  • 16. Suff. Chron. 2 June 1827.
  • 17. Bucks. RO, Buckinghamshire mss, Lansdowne to Goderich, 17 Sept. 1827.
  • 18. A. Aspinall, ‘Canningite Party’, TRHS (ser. 4), xvii (1934), 225; Palmerston-Sulivan Letters, 205; Colchester Diary, iii. 567-8.
  • 19. Hervey mss 941/56/60.
  • 20. Bury and Norwich Post, 28 July, 4 Aug. 1830.
  • 21. Hervey mss 941/56/59, 60, 59/6; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds) HA507/4/34.
  • 22. Bury and Suff. Herald, 9, 23 Mar., 27 Apr.; Bury and Norwich Post, 4 May 1831.
  • 23. Bury and Norwich Post, 12 Oct., 14 Dec. 1831; Hervey mss 941/11B, 11C; 56/24.
  • 24. The Times, 15 July; Bury and Suff. Herald, 28 Nov., 19 Dec. 1832; W.P. Scargill, A Reformer’s Reasons for Voting for Earl Jermyn; Hervey mss 941/2/1-3; 3/1-22.
  • 25. Gent. Mag. (1865), i. 99.